Bristol Zoo says one of its most popular gorillas has died

Western Lowland gorilla Salome turned 41 in July. Credit: ITV West Country

Bristol Zoo says one of its most popular gorillas has died.

Western Lowland gorilla Salome was found this morning in the gorilla house by her keepers. She died peacefully in her sleep.

Salome turned 41 in July.

The zoo says keepers became concerned about her health when she stopped eating her favourite foods of leafy lettuce, chicory and peppers.

Staff discovered she had serious heart disease and she had been on medication for this.

Keepers became concerned when Salome stopped eating her favourite foods. Credit: ITV West Country

Salome, who had three babies, was conceived at Bristol Zoo after her mum Lomie was brought to Clifton from London Zoo.

She was born at London Zoo and returned to Bristol almost 20 years ago.

In 2004 she became the first gorilla in the world to be given fertility treatment.

Keepers noticed she regularly mated but had not conceived.

Salome was given the human fertility drug Clomid and in 2006 gave birth to Komale.

Salome was a popular sight at Bristol Zoo's Gorilla Island. Credit: ITV West Country

Dr Bryan Carroll, chief executive of the Zoo, said: “Everyone is extremely saddened by Salome’s death.

“So many people knew her and recognised her by a small ginger patch of hair of her head and they would return time and again to see her.

“She was loved by our guests and by our keepers and staff alike. The Zoo has lost one of its most popular animals and one of its great characters. So many of us feel we have lost a friend.”